Interview with Catamaran Literary Magazine editor Zack Rogow
Welcome to the People Who Make Books Happen Interview Series. Zack Rogow is the author, editor, or translator of twenty books or plays including his most recent collection of poetry My Mother and the Ceiling Dancers. He is currently Poetry Editor of Catamaran Literary Reader, a new quarterly literary and arts magazine based in Santa Cruz California that is print on paper only. We are going to talk to Zack about why there are still great reasons to print on paper.
Mary: Could you please describe Catamaran for us and give us a history of the founding of the magazine? Who had the original idea to publish Catamaran?
Zack: Catamaran is the brainchild of Catherine Segurson who also serves as editor-in chief. Catherine is doubly talented as both a writer and a visual artist, so she has a great set of talents to pick art for the magazine as well as provide an overall vision for the writing. For each issue, Catherine pulls together the parts to create a suite of articles and artwork connected by themes and by the season in which that particular issue of the magazine is published.
Mary: In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit that my poem “Onça Pintanda/Painted Tiger” appears in the Fall 2013 issue of Catamaran. What else is in the Fall issue?
Zack: Poems by fourteen poets including Wendell Berry and Billy Collins; fiction by seven writers including Mary Doria Russell; nonfiction by eight authors including Wendell Berry again along with Milton Obenzinger and Deb Liggett, and multiple pieces of art work by thirteen amazing artists like Ruo Li and Poppy De Garmo.
Mary: That’s quite an impressive roll call. One thing that struck me the most about the current issue is how beautiful it looks. The paper is heavy and textured; the colors are vivid; the font is beautiful. In short, the magazine is beautifully designed. Obviously, given the proliferation of e-books and on-line publication, the decision to put out Catamaran as print on paper only was a carefully considered decision. Can you tell us your three favorite things about printing on paper?
Zack: My favorite things about publications that are actually printed are: One, print publications are real objects that exist in the world like a beautifully glazed pot or a ripe peach. They aren’t just a bunch of pixels. They have a substance and a presence that makes your home warmer. Two, I enjoy the physical sensation of turning pages, leafing through a publication and holding the printed page in my hands. I find it soothing. And three, there is a sense of permanence around a printed publication. It can’t be erased or lost as easily as a computer file. You can store it and be surprised to find it again years later. It doesn’t require a certain software or hardware to read it.
Mary: How commercially viable is a print on paper literary magazine these days?
Zack: Contrary to what you might imagine, the demand is actually increasing for high end, niche, specialty magazines. Print occupies 80% of the market, digital only 20%. Big commercial print magazines have declined because big advertising dollars have been redirected to the Internet, but this doesn’t really relate to the special literary magazine sector. As Catherine Segurson says: “Build it and they will come.”
Mary: Where can people buy copies of Catamaran?
Zack: They can subscribe by going to the Catamaran website. The magazine is also widely distributed in North America by Disticor Magazine Distribution, Source, MSolutions, and Ingram so it can also be found in bookstores.
Mary: Will there be any readings to launch the Fall Issue of Catamaran?
Zack: Yes. Catamaran’s First Year Anniversary will be celebrated on Friday, November 1, at 6:00 pm at the Santa Cruz Institute of Contemporary Art. There will also be a reading by some of the writers in the Fall Issue in Capitola on Friday November 8, 7:00 pm at Capitola Book Cafe. You can check out the Catamaran website for more information about upcoming events.
Mary: Before we go, tell us about your new chapbook Voices Carved From Obsidian.
Zack: It’s a booklet with four poems about favorite singers of mine: Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Curtis Mayfield, and Billie Holiday. Each crafted booklet had a hand silk-screened cover and is sewn in a figure-eight stitch to bind it, all done by the amazing publisher of Deconstructed Artichoke Press, Nicole Thompson. I chose those four poets because I adore their music, but I also wanted to write about their lives and what fascinating stories they lived. Acting as Poetry Editor of Catamaran has given me a chance to find out what’s happening in the larger literary community while still pursuing my own work.
Mary: What are you looking for as Poetry Editor?
Zack: I’m looking for work both by writers whose careers I’ve followed and admired over the years and new writers I’ve never heard of or writers people recommend to me. It’s surprising how much of the poetry we’ve published has come over the transom through the submissions interface on our website. Good writers have found the magazine and have responded to the themes in it.
Mary: Thanks, Zack. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.
Zack Rogow’s poems have appeared in a variety of magazines from American Poetry Review to ZYZZYVA. He is the editor of an anthology of U.S. poetry, The Face of Poetry, which was the culmination of his 9 years of presenting national poets at the Lunch Poems Reading Series at UC Berkeley. He currently teaches at two graduate writing programs: the low-residency MFA at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and the MFA at California College of the Arts. He has an MA in English from City College, City University of New York, and a BA in English from Yale University. Zack’s new chapbook Voices Carved from Obsidian will be available from Deconstructed Artichoke Press in Winter 2014. To obtain copies before that date, please contact Zack by email at email@example.com
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